See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Monday, October 18, 2010

The suppression of religious houses: Thinking about the Intercessors of the Lamb.


"If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor..." Ps. 126

I'm not sure if the average Catholic is able to grasp how devastating the suppression of a religious order, house, association of the faithful must be to the members.  These people of good will felt called to a particular way of life, gave up home and possessions, consecrated themselves by vows to God to live a faithful religious life with the approval of the local bishop, only to be told their vows were annulled and their community no longer exists.  These people in effect have lost everything.*  All of their supports, their structures have been taken away.  Rightly or wrongly enacted, the effects of suppression must be soul wrenching for those who no longer have a community or a place to live.
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"They go out, they go out, full of tears..." Ps. 125
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In Europe over the centuries, especially during times of upheaval such as the reformation and the French Revolution, religious orders were suppressed and disbanded by the government.  The religious were literally turned out on the street if not put to death.
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Throughout the centuries the Church has suppressed various groups as well - probably never more frequently than in the Middle Ages and later - times of tumult much like our own when well intentioned souls sought to live the Gospel more authentically.  At other times hermits were corralled in and required to enter established religious houses or cease their observance.  More notably the Franciscan Spirituals and a few other reform minded Franciscans were suppressed, while in other instances, monasteries of nuns or monks were dissolved and disbanded.  Usually because of heresy or disobedience to the Holy See.
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"Alas, I abide a stranger in Meshech, dwell among the tents of Kedar..." Ps. 119
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Anyway - these things have historical precedence, but how challenging it can be to one's faith.  I have to wonder how it affects the many other diocesan communities and associations of the faithful around the country?  How will new groups attract members when the stability of the association can be so easily dissolved?  How about those seeking donations to build facilities and to exist?  The recent suppression of the Intercessors of the Lamb should be cause for concern for these folks.
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I lift up my eyes to the mountains, from where shall come my help?" Ps. 120
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Take for instance the Carmelite Hermits in Wyoming (the group in Minnesota not long ago associated itself with the 'calced' Carmelites).  They do not belong to either of the two great Carmelite orders, they are an independent association of the faithful - I'm not quite certain they are even canonically permitted to be called monks.  They exist at the behest of the local ordinary.  The Wyoming group is a new group, an untested group, and they are building a big expensive monastery.  Think about it - that's all I'm doing here.
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"I bind myself to do your will, Lord, do not disappoint me." Ps. 118:31
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While Blessed Mother Teresa was seeking permission to found the Missionaries of Charity, she encountered resistance and delays by her bishop.  He explained to her what a great risk it is to give permission to found a new order, considering the souls involved.  What would happen to those who dedicate their lives to the apostolate, having given up home and property?  What would happen to them if the endeavor failed?  Mother Teresa had a very wise and prudent bishop - I wonder about those bishops who so eagerly permitted so many 'fringe' communities in their diocese.  Did they give much thought to what would happen to these souls after they had moved on and a new bishop took over?  Did they properly vet the candidates?
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All things considered, we know it is all in God's hands, and his loving providence: 'God  gives the lonely a home to live in." - Ps. 67:7
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Photo:  What a monk without a monastery might look like in a homeless shelter 'refectory'.
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"I would rather lie abject on the threshold of the house of God than dwell in the dwellings of the wicked." - Ps. 83:11  


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*Update:  I'm not sure if the Intercessors as a group actually lost everything.  See news report.

13 comments:

  1. Were these good, holy, Faithful?

    Were they spat upon or cast out?

    *

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  2. One has to feel sorry for them. It would be like having your family broken up. The ones who probably have it the worst are the religious sisters and brothers. Because they aren't that anymore. I suppose they could join other orders, but would have to apply and go through formation; I'm sure they couldn't just transfer in. The priests are still priests, and hopefully they will stay in the priesthood. There should be plenty of opportunities for them to exercise their ministry; that is if there isn't a kind of "burn notice" effect. But even for the priests there would be emotional devastation over the community they have lost.
    Even though there may be good reasons for the suppression, these people still deserve our prayers and kindness.

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  3. I agree Melody. Thanks.

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  4. Anonymous5:43 PM

    I am heartbroken over this news. I can feel in my spirit the pain and I know that this is not just a human pain, it is the pain of Jesus dwelling in me. Something new will happen and God will wipe away all the tears. How sad. I am not even in their community and I feel this way, I can't imagine how the sisters and brothers and priests feel.

    btw, it seems so unfari that the sisters and brothers vows are no longer valid. That is cruel.

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  5. I am always in awe of how quickly bishops can act when they want to, as in the case on the Intercessors. And yet there are so many other gross abuses and scandals which go on year after year after year with no one raising a finger. I wish that as much gumption was shown by certain bishops in taking on those who blatantly distort doctrine as the Bishop in question in defrocking on 81 year old Nadine Brown (whose books on the spiritual life I found as solid as they were beautiful and practical.)

    I am not saying the bishop was wrong; I just wish such lightening speed could be shown in some other situations.

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  6. Anonymous6:50 PM

    This was hardly a knee jerk reaction from the Bishop. The hermits problem's with it's neighbors, city hall and the Archdiocese go back well over a decade. They've always been a source of controversy and conducted themselves suspiciously. I for one am glad they got the boot. Best thing to happen in Ponca Hills in 20 years. Praise the LORD!

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  7. I agree with Anonymous posting at 6:50...I'm sure there were several "problems" with the community for quite a while...not a case of where the Archbishop didn't like what kind of sandals they wore...

    This brings up a conversation we had yesterday after Mass, specifically concerning the Wyomong Carmelites...I had to inform people that they are not accosiated with either OCarm or OCD.. the great Carmelite orders...but rather their own "spin-off" community... people were shocked... one lady even brought up her iPhonhe and said "See..their Web page says they are Carmelite... I had to tell her my conversation I had with Fr Aloyscious Deeny, the Provincial of the OCDS, he said specifically that they weren't associated with OCarm or OCD, and that is coming from the head guy in Rome.

    I'm sure Benedictines, Franciscans, Dominicans, etc have the same troubles.

    IMHO..if you want to form you own little community, and embrace Carnmelite spirituality, and not be part of the two major orders, call yourselves "little brothers of St Therese" or some such name... not Wyoming Carmelites....because everyone thinks your' Carmelites, and you're not...the bishop in question should have challenged them on their choice of name.

    And especially where the wallet is concerned..people will clue in on a name.. "Oh yes, Carmelites, the dear sweet Carmelite nuns prayed every day for my grandmother on her death bed, so I want to send Carmelites a donation..".be careful and do your research.

    Not saying that these guys are bad, they are probably very pious folks....but they are NOT Carmelites...and little fibs like these tend to break down trust.

    Sara, OCDS ( a REAL Carmelite :)

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  8. Anonymous12:08 PM

    http://www.omaha.com/article/20101019/NEWS01/710199885

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  9. Sara, THANK YOU!

    (from a real Franciscan) :-p

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  10. Anonymous10:48 AM

    The plot thickens. . .

    http://www.omaha.com/article/20101020/NEWS01/710209905

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  11. Anonymous - it just gets crazier and crazier. I'm sure Brown thought she was acting in the child's best interest, but this is crazy. Thanks for the link.

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  12. All I can say is, thank God we (our new community) are poor as church mice, we're about as popular as the bubonic plague (from both spectrums, thank you very much) and we have been through hell ourselves with something familiar; thanks to Cardinal-elect Burke, when he was our diocesan bishop, we "weathered the storm"...
    I have been personally touched by this whole mess...I'm spiritual director for the individual members, and have been directing the entire prayer group, formerly associated with the Intercessors...talk about stress these last few days...what do I do? What do I tell them? How do I direct them?
    Thank God I have a very sound spiritual director who has assisted me in helping them cope...we met Monday night...there is much to be done to assist them in continuing their formation, now without the association to this suppressed group...please pray for us, all y'all...please.
    They are such good, faithful, holy and loving Catholics...they are taking this well, all things considered, but damn~!
    No rest for the wicked, I guess:-)!! (Terry's wicked humor here!)

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  13. And, for what this is worth...I agree with Sara and Thom...
    The Wymoming Carmelite Hermits, as devout, faithful and "on target" as they may appear; not being affiliated with either the O.Carms or O.C.D.s does raise some "red flags" for me; I'm not making any judgments here.
    In the history of the Church, where there is general chaos and uncertainty, there can be, and say this with hesitation, a "purist" mentality that somehow "distances" religious communities that want to be "free from all contagion" and then end up in all kinds of problems and scandals.
    That being said; just be careful where your hard-earned money is going to...this IS a diocesan institute; the bishop should be regulating what is going on...but as in the case of the suppressed "Intercessors"...sometimes that can be vague and very sketchy.
    We have a diocesan priest as our superior (General Moderator) which links us directly to the Diocese of La Crosse. That is a definite "check and balance" situation; we are definitely "inserted" into our diocesan life (whether the crabs want to acknowledge it or not is their problem). Nevertheless...independent groups sometimes get "nutty"...without proper supervision, accoutability, and yes, the cross of hearing the word, "NO", or "Not yet"...believe me...I have struggled with this for years but in the light of what is presently going on, I thank the Lord for all the crosses He has sent...the obstacles, the prejudices, the lack of support, the waiting....waiting...waiting...the lack of care from those who should be caring.
    It's all a part of founding.
    And if it comes too easily; or has strings attached (esp. with $$$), it's Satan's attempt to intervene.
    Yep.
    That's it.

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